COVID-19 Anxiety: Intergenerational Trauma (2020-2021)

COVID-19 Anxiety addresses intergenerational trauma, the trauma of disease and loss. COVID-19 has acted as a trigger to reanimate these stories pointing to familial absence, delusion and suicide.

bench shot at Shankill Castle, Ireland
Pam Patterson, Bench – 39” H x 98” W, photo-digital print, 2019.

The first image, Bench is made from photographs taken at Shankill Castle, Ireland. Here the metaphor of the castle garden is used. To be in such a garden is to stand in the middle of a vision of the world—the garden is in itself a cosmological statement where within its symmetrical plan and ordered framework, particularity is seemingly understood to be varied, fertile and hospitable. But how is this order maintained? What are the underlying expectations? Here this distorted garden bench acts in image to create a disturbance inviting us to see, through a contemporary pandemic lens, the past ruptured and reassessed through disability and the trauma of famine and expulsion.

Pam Patterson – Cholera: Grosse-Île, 39” H x 98” W, photo-digital print, 2020

Cholera: Grosse-Île, as panoramic diptych, reveals the history of the Irish cholera epidemic deaths in the 1850s. The Irish Memorial National Historic Site on Grosse-Île is the largest Irish cemetery in the world. Ousted starving and homeless from their country and sent in “coffin ships” to Canada, many died on route, some hoping to recover, nursed in the cholera room on the island. As with the “Indian problem”, key members of the British parliament hoped to deal with the “Irish problem” either through deliberate neglect or by enabling the spread of disease.

View the entire COVID-19 Anxiety series

All original panoramic photographs were taken at different sites in Ireland and at Grosse-Île, Canada.

Irish Need not Apply (2019)

Irish Need Not Apply captures a rhetoric of Irish trauma – occupation, famine, genocide and expulsion. It presents a conundrum which is not only deeply personal but also deeply troubling. The work addresses memory, intergenerational trauma, and language within the Irish/Canadian immigrant body.  Many who left Ireland during traumatic times often return years later with the trauma unresolved. It sits as an immutable block in their psyche. Their perception has become, as Nuala O’Failin said in a 1988 interview, “flattened out” making it almost impossible for them to perceive Ireland’s resilience and contemporary diversity nor to acknowledge their own problematic immigrant/settler position, identity manipulation, and potential to thrive in Canada.

Each work is a digitally designed photo/drawing collage.


View the entire Irish Need not Apply series

Sensing an alteration… (2022)

There is an interesting frisson when different mediums and concepts collide. Working from photo documentation taken by artist Miklos Legrady of a moment in my week-long performance residency for FADO, A Cellu(h)er Resistance: A Body with/out Organs?, I digitally alter and overlay photo images with drawings I made of a trio of geese that visited my cottage for table scraps every morning in Ireland. One of the geese had an impairment which made her walking pattern unique. Both moments/images have stayed with me.

As a disability artist with mobility issues, I now live with a traumatic brain injury, beside a cemetery, away from my country community, and am daily assaulted by living-in-the-city noise. Issues around boundaries, borders, edges, and how I might perceive these also arise. Drawing, photography, and performance record this correspondence. I sense there is an alteration and reach for it.

Drawing on Water

View the entire Drawing (on) Water series

Pam Patterson's work in the CCCA archive

Pam Patterson's work on the website
click on image to view the ccca archives

<<--back to top of page